By Wendy Custer
After a tragedy in our neighborhood, our neighbor, Agnes, called to say that she would like to come over. Jerry walked over to escort her through the yard while I bustled about trying to create some order to the house. We made a place for Agnes to sit on the sofa, between my oldest son and myself, and continued to talk about the events of the evening. The TV was playing in the background, puppies were whining from the studio, dogs were lying at our feet, and the kids were rotating in and out of the shower. It was our typical pre-bedtime routine and the house was in its usual state of disorder, so Agnes really took me by surprise with her announcement.
"I always find such peace at your house," she stated as she held my hand. I looked around at the laundry baskets of unfolded clothes and various other neglected chores, and I couldn't imagine how someone else could find my chaos peaceful!
I was sharing Agnes' statement with my sister-in-law, Shannon, and I fully expected her to share my surprise. Instead, she laughed and reminded me that I had found that same kind of peace at her home during one of my difficult times. I thought back on that experience and realized that I had found peace in the midst of many other people's chaos as well. It really didn't matter what was going on in their homes as long as they welcomed me in and offered company when I was alone, or afraid, or sad. The chaos, as they saw it, was simply home and family happening around me. The fact that someone would let me into the midst of their everyday life meant that I was loved and welcomed. If anything, the chaos was a welcome distraction and a reminder that life was going on.
I have fresh eyes for my own chaos now. Of course, I would prefer to have a clean, beautifully decorated house for my guests, but now I see that it is not my house or the decorations that draw them to my home. Instead, it is the warmth of the love that we offer, the vibrancy of life that we demonstrate, and the promise of a welcoming smile no matter what else may be going on.
I am so thankful for all of my friends that have opened their lives to me in times of need. I am just as grateful, though, that God gives me the opportunities to share my home as well. After Agnes' reminder, I am also feeling blessed to have what I call "chaos" in my home. As odd as that may seem, it is the children, the animals, and yes, even the chores that come with them, that make our life so rich and full! After a look around my home through the eyes of my neighbor, I realize that I too can find peace in the midst of my chaos!